It has been almost 10 months since Pastor Skender was buried and went to be with Jesus.
Last year in October and November, Pastor Skender was visiting churches in America to raise support for his church in Kosovo. He always dreamed big – mostly for the people he mentored rather than for himself. He always wanted the people who were close to him to learn and succeed and that’s why he spent so much time acting as a father to his students.
On a very cold day on January 8th, almost everybody went to Pastor Skender’s funeral, to not only pay the respect but it almost seemed as we still wanted to believe that God was going to do a miracle right then. Unfortunately, for us, that did not become true.
The house where the family used to live is still burnt. Valbona and the kids are renting an apartment somewhere on the fifth floor with no elevator. Sarah and Deborah go to school every day and they’re doing a great job at studying. Valbona stays with Sion as she tries to figure out to find a place where they are going to call it home. Every single day when Valbona wakes up – it is hard for her to accept the reality. “I feel like he has gone somewhere and he will come back” – Valbona says.
Sundays are rough! There are times when no one shows up anymore: some of them are back to college, some work and some just haven’t made peace yet with the fact that our Pastor is gone.
Pastor Slemani tries to have Sunday service also with the church in Gjakova but there are times when it is difficult even for him since nobody wants to allow anyone to take Pastor Skender’s spot in their lives.
Meanwhile, the same applies to the English courses as well. No more students, no more English, no more Summer camps, no more visiting families and no more happily going out for coffee after Sunday service. As unfair as it seems this is the reality and we always trust that God is in control of everything. What we cannot comprehend He has already comprehended before we did exist.
Let us remind Pastor Skender’s family in our prayers. Also, continue praying for Debora as she gets to register for high school next Fall.
Please pray for Valbona and the kids to find comfort in Christ and for God to continually provide for them: financially and spiritually.
Please also keep praying as Balkans Partners is trying to get close to making a decision for a regular meeting place that is on the ground floor!
Agon Dahsyla grew up in the church along with the other kids. He is a young man who was always beside Pastor Skender Hoti for anything needed.
He helped on the Media whenever necessary.
He finished college in Gjakova – Kosovo in 2017 studying the English Language. Meanwhile, on January 2013 till June 2013 Agon finished Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission in Harpenden, north of London. Afterwards, in July 2013 till September 2013 Agon finished Documentary Film School in the same YWAM location. After so many tries of seeing where God wanted him to be, finally, the doors opened.
Agon has applied to be committed as a staff member in the communication department for 2 years in YWAM location of Turner Valley in AB, Canada. The staffing starts the first week of January 2018. He is going to be part of the Communications leadership team there and work on the media side of YWAM Turner Valley.
Visa appointment will be made as soon as he gets all the paperwork set and ready. And the visa process itself takes four to six weeks.
Prayer requests are necessary and needed:
– Agon needs God to prepare people who are going to support him on monthly basis for the entire two years while he is staffing. He needs $500 a month.
– Also, pray that Agon doesn’t leave out any documents that he needs to get the visa on time.
– And pray for growth for him and those God brings together during his time there
Life without my dad is so hard. Sometimes, I still can’t believe my dad is gone.
I wish my dad was here so that I could tell him how much I need him and how hard has been without him standing by my side. The last time I saw him was 230days ago. Almost 8months, and it feels like 8days and I carry his memory with me everywhere I go. My mind knows he’s in a better place, where there is no pain and no tears. I used to say ”I can’t imagine life without my dad” And now well; I don’t need to imagine it, I love and miss him every day.
My mind still talks to him, my heart still looks for him, my soul knows that he is at peace. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at his pictures and smile. We hold our dad close within our hearts and there he will remain, walking with us throughout our lives until we meet again. You’re not here to look at me, but I know you’re in heaven and your living spirit is listening to me. Even though I want you with my full strength and love, I still have to say thank you to God for ever day of your life. You made us proud. I promise you daddy that your pride will be build day by day and we are going to be what you always wanted us to be; educated, having good grades and always walking in God’s Word.
– written by: Debora Hoti
Life is like a storm that collides but when we know that we have someone important who leads us to where we are supposed to go and He is someone that found me when I did not know where to lean on and everything in my life had no meaning. Jesus was always there.
In 2000 I had a brochure in my hand with Bible stories. The first story that I started to read was the story of Jesus on the cross and God started to touch me through that story. Immediately I went and told someone that was close to me that I started to read something really interesting. I told them that this person whose name is Jesus is innocent and look how the people beat Him and mistreated Him. During the time that I shared that story something in my heart would move. However, because I was in a Muslim family, it was very hard to express myself.
One month I saw crowds of people coming at a restaurant in front of my house where I used to live. They were preaching from the Bible but I couldn’t go regularly even though it was close to where we used to live. Our dad was very difficult and I couldn’t dare to ask him if I could go join that group of people and see what they’re teaching. If I asked him if I could go there I knew that he was going to threaten me even with my life. A year passed by and I started listening to worship music and this would make me feel amazing. I couldn’t dare to read the Bible much because the mentality of my family was like that of my father. One day I was invited to a family meeting and I didn’t know that God made it possible for the man that I was supposed to marry to be invited there to that party. We introduced ourselves and he wanted me to have 10 minutes to talk to him. He told me that he likes me and that he had seen me 2 years ago but he didn’t have a chance to meet with me but he knew who I was.
He told me that he likes me a lot and knowing that he knew me very well he asked me to go out with him on a walk so that we can talk more. So we went and talked about a lot of things. However, after 2 weeks I saw him again because he came over to my family’s house in Peja and my family accepted him because I already told them about him. It was at that time that he proposed to me and he told me that he was very busy directing some children’s meeting and also was in charge of taking care of the church that he was staying at.
In 2002 we were engaged and after 3 months we were married. Life went by and I was the happiest person in the world because I was blessed in this marriage. God blessed us with three kids; two daughters and a son and it was a huge blessing for me. He was the Pastor of the Protestant Church and we were a very blessed family with our kids growing up but the years went by so fast.
One night in Dec 28th, 2016 an explosion and fire destroyed our church where we also used to live. The building was burned completely. The kids and I were safe but Skender wasn’t. He was in critical condition as we were trying to do everything we could to take him outside of the country for treatment. On January 8th, 2017 he died, God decided to take him by His side. Life is very hard without him.
He was a very good dad to our kids and to the church as well as a very amazing husband to me. We miss him more every day because it is very hard to live life without the other half of your body. We are trying to walk forward and God is taking care of us in a very amazing way and He keeps us in His hand so that we can be strong in Him alone.
Now we live in an apartment which we rent, but I know God has a plan for us as He has been providing every single need. He will also provide a home that will be ours. We are all praying.
– written by: Valbona Hoti
On December 28th, the church in Gjakova, Kosovo was engulfed in flames. Skender’s wife, Valbona and the kids are ok, but Skender has 3rd-degree burns in more than 70% of his body. He is in the hospital in Prishtina, treated with morphine but the hospital and the doctors are not equipped for this case. Since we don’t have any qualifications in Kosovo for things like this, the best solution is for Skender to be transferred outside Kosovo to a hospital with burns unit.
The house/ the church and all their belongings are lost to the fire. The building is literally burned from basement to the rooftop. Please pray with us as we ask the Lord for a miracle of healing and open doors for Skender’s transfer. Because his passport and the visa are burned as well, his case gets complicated. It is a long and expensive journey and we have opened a GoFund Me page for his medical expenses. Also, you can give through Balkans Partners online.